Tips for Success: Federal Court

If you are in the process of applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and have appealed the denials for your reconsideration request, ALJ hearing, and Appeals Council decision, there is still an option available to you. If you feel that your disability claim has been wrongly denied, you can request a Federal Court review of your application claim. To enter this stage of the appeals process, you must file a claim in Federal District Court.

What to Expect

Generally, a Federal Court review of your SSD benefits claim can be a long process. For instance, within the Federal Court, there are three levels of review.

Filing an appeal in Federal Court is not free, and they charge certain fees to file your claim. If you find that you cannot afford the Federal Court’s fee, you can try to have it waived by requesting a written waiver and providing evidence for why you cannot afford the court fees.

Once you file your claim with the Federal Court, they will do one of three things:

  • Send the case back to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in order to obtain additional information and medical evidence regarding your case
  • Rule that they agree with the SSA and their decision to deny your claim for SSD benefits
  • Reverse the SSA’s decision to deny your disability benefits application

Most of this process is done through writing. In fact, a face-to-face oral hearing in a courtroom for a Federal Court review of your benefits claim is rare.

Federal Court is of a higher stature than the SSA. It is considered the highest possible level to which you can take your SSD benefits appeals claim. If the Federal Court denies your claim, you will unfortunately not be able to appeal the decision.

What to Do

A Federal Court review of your disability benefits claim is a long and complicated endeavor. You should make sure that your appeal has sufficient evidence of a wrongdoing or procedural error that happened while processing your application and appeals before deciding to go forward with this process.

The most important aspect of the Federal Court review stage of the disability benefits process is to hire a disability lawyer. A lawyer will be doing most of the communicating throughout this review process.

You have 60 days from the date of your Appeals Council denial to have your lawyer file a civil action lawsuit in Federal District Court.

Unlike other stages of the appeals process, you do not need to worry about submitting new medical evidence to be reviewed. In fact, the Federal Court is not looking to determine if you are disabled or unable to work. Rather, they are only trying to find an error in procedure to reverse the SSA’s denial of your claim.

Tips for Success

  • Finding and retaining a good disability lawyer who specializes in these types of claims is your best chance for success in requesting a Federal Court review. The lawyer will be in charge of most of the communication for your case, not you, so ensuring a trustworthy and experienced lawyer is important.
  • Keep in constant communication with your attorney and the SSA. If any evidence is missing, you can be prepared to give it.